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Travel Article: Spain Travel Tips

Posted on September 29th, 2005 filed in Travel Tips    |   

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1) There are two very original and must see (and experience) festivals in Spain:

a) Running from the Bulls :

This takes place from July 6-14 in Pamplona (250 miles hours north of Madrid, in the vicinity of Bilboa, close to the Atlantic Ocean, and near the start of the Pyrenees mountains). Basically, and as its name implies, at 7:00 am of each morning, thousands of locals and tourists gather to basically run from a hord of bulls, released from the stables. The event lasts for 10 minutes and is for the most part safe (There have been a small number of injuries and few fatalities reported in the history of the festival so far). Risk of injury would statistically be more from stampede (In case of tripping) than from the bulls.

b) Tomatina Festival:

This occurs on August 31 in Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain, a short distance south of Barcelona. Tens of thousands of people converge on this small town to take place in the largest tomato fight in the world. Dozens of trucks unload ripe tomatoes and then it’s every one for him(her)self. Few minutes later, it is over. The cleaning crew takes over and shortly afterwards, everything is back to normal with no sign whatsoever of what just happened.

2) The best time to visit Spain is April-June and September-October. July and August are extremely hot (Exception being the Atlantic border and the northern part of the country). In the afternoon during these two months, stores close and everyone goes for siesta.

3) Each part of Spain has its own character, appeal, and charm: Atlantic coast, Madrid, Barcelona, Andalussia, Canary islands, Majorcas,…). You need no less than 3 weeks (Preferably 4) to have a full itinerary and visit most of the country.

4) Ibiza is the current partying capital of the world. You can take a ferry from Barcelona or Valencia or fly from a large number of european cities.

5) Tapas are a must to try when in a spanish restaurant. This is a collection of a variety of ethnic foods served in small plates.

6) Spain currency is the euro.

7) Spain is part of the Shengen agreement regarding visas. Americans and Canadians do not need a visa to visit Spain.

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4 Responses to “Travel Article: Spain Travel Tips”

  1. Nanou Says:

    Oh, I have seen the Tomato festival on TV and in movies, it looks like a lot of fun…I didn’t know that it was one day only, so August 31…So weird. Why do they smash all these tomatoes and who pays for them? Is there a lot of tourists? I know I would love to go….You know I actually have been to Valencia, and we went to the Oceonagraphia which is basically the biggest aquarium in Europe if not in the world and it is so so beautiful. We spent the whole and we have been to many Aquarium (eg the one in Atlanta) they all pale in comparison….Any kind of sea creature, you name it it is there, and there are tunnels you walk through with sharks swimming all around you….

    But had I been more informed about the Tomatina Festival, I would arranged our trip around that time…too bad!

  2. Amanda Says:

    I went to the Bull Running Festival, believe it or not, on my honeymoon! Not the most romantic honeymoon I guess, but I am sure it was the most unforgettable, fun, wild, ‘honeymoon/crazy week’ ever….

    My husband decided to actually go for the adrenaline rush and run with the crowd or at least stand on the side of the street as the bulls pass and feel at proximity their anger, fear and the knowledge that this 500kg wild beast, might for no reason change his course and head in your direction! Luckily my husband was unharmed and thrilled (it is in general safe but a few accidents even deaths have occurred throughout the years). I, on the other hand, did not want to miss the whole rush but was too much of a chicken to run at proximity of the bulls, so I rented a balcony spot from a local there (it is common practice and they have fliers advertising their balconies all over). I and a couple of other people watched the bull run festival from a very strategic spot, and I ended with some wonderful pictures…The rest of the day was pure fun as people all over the street dressed in the traditional red and white colors, drinking, eating, partying till early morning….

    I will never forget these few days, it felt as if the entire world was celebrating, as if there was no such thing as work, deadlines, bills, politics….It just felt like life is a party and everybody is invited and that is why it was the best honeymoon ever!

  3. Joelle Says:

    Ah! Running with the bulls in Pamplona in July is truly one of those experiences that one must experience at least once in one’s lifetime. Although, I met people there, that have become addicted to the thrill and high of the festival and have come to the festival for the 7th time…Imagine, 7 years in a row to save up to travel and run wit the bulls and party with locals and tourists from all over the world…IN fact, wasn’t it the famous Ernest Hemingway who himself, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, and lived to tell the tale in his own special way thus putting Pamplona and this festival on the map…

    I also loved this festival….After the running with the bulls festival which was quite an experience, we went to the bull fighting arena and watched the show….My God, it was amazing…The crowd, thousands and thousands of people as mentioned in other reviews, all dressed in red and white…quite the sight!

    The artful movement of the matadors, their grace, their agility, their defiance to face the beast and beat it, the stubbornness of the bull, the bulls fearless attacks, the way keeps on heading towards the arrow…the decor of the arena, the costumes of te horses, the costumes of the Matadors…the crwod was all amazing…yet I was not prepared to see the brutal killing of the bull…. I, honestly simply thought they were playing with him, until blood started gushing from his mouth, and the several hundred kilogram powerful beast, fell on the ground, defeated and dead and the crowd cheered! I was a little chocked by the brutality of all this and the bestiality of humans to cheer the agonizing torture and slaughter of a harmless beast. It reminded me of the Roman times, the Gladiator..and I wondered why do human enjoy such activities…

    Having said that, it is still one of the most unforgettable shows I have or will ever see, I just wish it was less Gory, like can’t they simply put him to sleep instead of killing him? A man told me, that I must not feel so bad, these are the bulls that run in the festival early in the morning and are killed in front of an audience in the afternoon…These particular bulls lived the life of a king, they apparently are extremely well fed and pampered with all kinds of cows at t heir disposal, they live a long and happy life only to die in the spotlight!

  4. Joseph Says:

    I have been to this Running of the Bull Festival and it was a BLAST! I went with a bunch of my college friends and it was a party for three days straight…. The festival itself, is something to see, early in the morning, people all dressed in white and red gather in thousands in the streets of the town, they get ready to run, then you hear a loud banging and 6 bulls are released and people start running with thousands of spectators on all the windows, balconies and side streets….Unless you are really out of luck, it is safe….

    And then you take a small nap (often in the Park) and the Party continues, I mean it is a huge festival, with parades, everybody dressed in white pants and red shirts, drinking and having fun till dawn or till the next running with bull early the next morning….

    It is a must do in one’s lifetime

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